Bill's BBQ shutting down all stores

Published: Sep. 11, 2012 at 9:35 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 16, 2012 at 9:35 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A Richmond institution is closing for good.

Bill's Barbecue just announced it is closing all of its restaurants this Sunday. The owners say several factors played into the closing, including the tough economy and the significant cost of upgrading its operations.

"It's terrible. I remember coming here in high school. The limeade. I'm gonna miss that limeade," said Drew Kelley.

"Of course, I like the barbeque, but I'm always coming to get that limeade and french apple pie," said Darryl Gregory.

Closing the family's business for good was a slow and painful process for the owners. First, they closed five locations and eliminated 20 jobs in a failed attempt to reduce the impact of a bad economy.

However, the writing was on the wall. Things changed over the last five years and the owners said the high cost of upgrading operations made it impossible to continue operating.

"I wish more people had come here. It's sad. It's the barbeque spot in Richmond," said Kelly.

"What's next? You come to a store today - and tomorrow it's closed. So, I'm very surprised," said Gregory.

The Richardson family, in a press release, signed off on 82 years in business by saying, "We give our utmost thanks and appreciation to our loyal employees, customers, and friends. May God bless you all."

Between now and Sunday, when Bill's Barbeque is gone, there will be a whole lot of reminiscing on the parking lot.

"There's no barbeque in the world like Bill's. I've been know to drive from Fairfax to Richmond to get the best barbeque in the world," said Morgan Birge.

The first Bill's Barbecue opened in Richmond in 1930. At one point, Bill's operated as many as 13 locations around the area.

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